Volume 23, Issue 4 (October 1978)
George A. Dorsey's Role in the Luetgert Case: A Significant Episode in the History of Forensic Anthropology
At the 1976 Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) in Washington I gave an invited evening lecture on the history of physical anthropology . Actually, I spoke only about the history of physical anthropology as I saw it reflected in the history of forensic anthropology. Among the pioneers of forensic anthropology in the United States, I included George A. Dorsey (1868–1931), mentioning that while a student at Harvard in the early 1890s he might have known Thomas Dwight, the father of forensic anthropology in the United States, and that after joining the staff of the Field Columbian Museum in 1896 he served as an expert witness for the prosecution in the sensational Luetgert murder trials in Chicago. Unfortunately, on the basis of the limited information about these trials available to me in 1976, I misjudged the nature of Dorsey's testimony and made the mistake of saying that he “tripped up badly in the process.” Since this error did not get corrected before the paper appeared in print, I would like to set the record straight.